Semi-Coherent Philadelphia Eagles vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview


Did last week get you suitably pumped for football season? I’ll admit that for preseason, last week’s game was pretty darned fun. We had rookies make an impact, big plays from the special teams, and of course Tim Tebow!

Will this week’s game match last week’s excitement? And will we finally get a look at the team’s presumptive starting quarterback?

A Little Bit About the Ravens

The Eagles and Ravens have practiced together this week. While the two squads have reportedly been mostly amicable, it would be surprising if there isn’t at least a little pent-up aggression. Don’t be shocked if you see a few post-whistle scuffles break out on Saturday.

Last week, I mentioned how I never liked when the Eagles played the Ravens in preseason. It felt like the Ravens would break out exotic blitz packages instead of keeping things simple like most teams. It was ever so much fun watching Donovan McNabb get crushed by repeated blind side hits.

I don’t know if that’s changed under John Harbaugh (Former coach Brian Billick was a bit of a jerk), but it wouldn’t shock me if the Ravens continued that tradition and acted like this game was for real, especially since the Eagles have supposedly looked like the superior team in the practices.

May 28, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh speaks after the OTA at the Under Armour Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

I could write a ton of stuff about the Ravens without really knowing what I’m talking about. (It’s never stopped me before!) Instead, I decided to ask a diehard Ravens fan what he thought about this year’s squad. Here’s a detailed scouting report courtesy of my friend Dan:

"For the first time in what seems like forever, the Ravens have gone through an offseason without any major controversy. Except this. And this. But at least no one got videotaped hitting their wife!In a typical Ravens offseason tradition, the Ravens parted ways with key players on all three sides of the ball, letting go of Jacoby “Dancing with the Stars” Jones, Torrey “There are routes other than running straight down the field?” Smith, and Haloti “I’m a Ravens fan, so I don’t have to look up how to spell his name” Ngata. This made waves among Ravens fans, until you realize that ex-Ravens usually don’t do squat on their new teams. (See Cary Williams for example.)The offense is led by Joe Flacco, who is all average when it comes to the regular season, and all superstar when it comes to the playoffs. He’s never missed a start, and we’re all praying that he doesn’t miss one this season, because his backup is Matt “Pick Six” Schaub. Schaub has looked so bad in training camp that even his teammates are openly mocking him.On defense, every Ravens fan is hoping that they can avoid a repeat of the rash of injuries suffered by the secondary in 2014. I’d say it’s a bad sign that Matt Elam is already lost for the year, but no one gives a crap because he was toasted repeatedly last year.Since the Ravens play in the unthreatening AFC North, it seems they might be primed to make a run back to the playoffs. Or at least they will be as long as everyone can restrain from punching their fiancée or obstructing justice."

Is Joe Flacco Elite? The Debate Continues

Is Joe Flacco elite? The world may never know for sure. Image Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For some reason, it feels like we won’t be able to rest as a society until we can definitively decide whether Joe Flacco is élite. Last season, he completed 62.1% of his passes and threw 27 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions. Those are pretty good numbers, right? Does that mean he’s élite?

I honestly don’t know. What does “élite” even mean? When I’m thinking of the best quarterbacks in the league, he’s certainly not one of the first names that comes to mind. For instance, in your fantasy draft, what round does Flacco go in? Try taking him in the first two rounds and see how many people laugh at you.

On the other hand, my mother loves the guy, mostly because he went to Delaware which is her alma mater. So he’s got that going for him.

Token Analysis of the Ravens’ Backup Quarterbacks

Elite or not, Flacco will likely be out of this game before halftime. So here’s a look at the other guys who will be lining up under center:

Matt Schaub

As Dan mentioned earlier, Ravens fans are not filled with confidence towards Schaub. Apparently it’s tough to believe in a guy whose play the last two seasons could generously be described as “dumpster fire.”

Matt Schaub: Dumpster fire. Image Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After flaming out spectacularly in Houston, Schaub was traded to the Raiders before the 2014 season. He was expected to serve as a placeholder for rookie Derek Carr, but he played so poorly in preseason that the Raiders decided to just start the rookie from the beginning.

When he did get the opportunity to play, Schaub didn’t exactly make them regret that decision. Based on his performance in training camp, it doesn’t seem that he’s discovered the magic formula to turning around his career.

Bryn Renner

After suffering an injury in his senior season at North Carolina, Renner went unselected in the 2014 draft. After spending a season in the Arena Football League, the Ravens signed him to serve as their third quarterback. (Let’s get all those “next Kurt Warner” superlatives ready!)

To recap, the Ravens backup quarterbacks are a walking disaster and a guy who looked REALLY good in the Arena League last year. Elite or not, if Flacco goes down, the Ravens’ season probably goes down with him.

Is it Time to Worry About Sam Bradford?

I thought that last week was going to be Sam Bradford’s debut, but then Chip Kelly was all like, “Nope, that’s not going to happen.” Before that game, Kelly implied that Bradford was going to start this week, but for most of this week, he wouldn’t fully commit to that either.

Kelly is acting like this isn’t a big deal. I find this strange considering it was supposedly a huge problem when Evan Mathis skipped offseason workouts. (Starting quarterback doesn’t take live snaps before the season? No biggie! Left guard misses mini-camp? The offense will never be able to function!)

Kelly still hasn’t made an official statement on the subject, but Dave Spadaro has: Bradford is going to play on Saturday night. It wouldn’t shock me if Bradford was pulled before the second quarter, but barring a last-second change, Bradford will finally take the field. (It also wouldn’t shock me if Kelly called all running plays while Bradford was in the game, and explained it by saying that the team needed to work on their rushing attack.)

While I don’t want to see the starting quarterback get injured in a meaningless game (right, Redskins fans?), I also find it slightly troublesome that Kelly is being so protective of Bradford. I’m worried that we’re going to be holding our breath every time he takes a hit this season. (Then again, this should be nothing new for Eagles fans.)

The Week in Tebow

Last week, Tim Tebow’s chances at the third quarterback spot took a bit of a hit. It wasn’t that he played poorly; he actually looked pretty good, especially considering he wasn’t getting much help from his receivers and offensive line. The problem was that his competition for the job played even better.

Take Matt Barkley…please. Image Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Barkley had a strong game. While he wasn’t chucking the ball with Michael Vick-like arm strength, at least his throws seemed to have more velocity than in years past. Two years ago, when Barkley was forced into action, every time he threw a pass, I’d hold my breath seeing if the “flutterball” would ever make it to the intended target.

With Bradford expected to play this week, that leaves less time for Tebow and Barkley. Since Barkley came in first last week – and as a result, got to play with a better supporting cast – does Tebow come in first this week?

It’s possible that Barkley will get extended playing time as a way to showcase him for other teams. Surely there are other teams who aren’t quite satisfied with their backup quarterback situation (like this week’s opponent for instance), and might be willing to send a draft pick to the Eagles in exchange for Barkley.

Mocking the East

Part of the fun of being a football fan is taking pleasure in the misfortune of your favorite team’s rivals. Each week, I’ll find a reason to make fun of one of the other teams in the NFC East. (Note: Although I’m sure I could feature the Redskins every week, I’ll try to spread around the mockery a bit.)

Pay this man! Image Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Contract talks between Eli Manning and the New York Giants aren’t going well. This is probably because Manning reportedly sought to become the highest paid player in the NFL.

Disclaimer: Manning has vehemently denied this report, and it probably isn’t true. Am I going to let that stop me from making fun of him anyway? Of course not!

Keeping in mind that quarterbacks are usually disproportionately paid, should Manning (speaking of quarterbacks whose “eliteness” is often debated) be anywhere near the top of the pay scale? Yes, I’m aware that he’s won two Super Bowls, but is he currently one of the ten best quarterbacks in the league? And is there any reason to think that he’s going to improve in the coming years?

The Giants could do what the Lakers did with Kobe Bryant and give him a massive extension that serves as a “lifetime achievement” award. But paying big bucks for past performance is an excellent way for teams to get in trouble with the salary cap. As an Eagles fan, I heartily endorse this plan of action.

To their credit, even Giants fans think the idea of making Eli the highest paid player is ridiculous. Well, at least most Giants fans feel that way.

Super Bowl Year Song of the Week

The Eagles have not made many appearances in the Super Bowl (Two, to be exact). I’m hopeful that this season will mark their third appearance in the “big game,” so each week I’m going to take a song from one of the franchise’s Super Bowl seasons (1980 and 2004) that somehow relates to this week’s game.

Don’t Tell Me – Avril Lavigne, 2004

Will Sam Bradford play this week? Will he ever play? Chip Kelly doesn’t seem very inclined to tell any of us.


It feels like the Ravens are going to take this game seriously, while the Eagles don’t even seem to care if their starting quarterback plays.

Ravens 31 – Eagles 17

Next: Is Chase Utley a Hall of Famer?

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